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Postoperative Care - Hand Surgery

Call us: (831) 464-8880

Initial Care Following Hand Surgery

If you have a SPLINT (plaster or fiberglass) wear your splint AT ALL TIMES! This is imperative to allow for proper healing and to ensure the best functional outcome. Your surgeon or hand therapist will remove your splint at the appropriate time.

If you have a SOFT DRESSING (ACE wrap, gauze etc.) you may remove the dressing in 2 days or you may leave it on. If you remove it, it is OK to shower or wash your hands. Apply bacitracin antibiotic ointment to the incision afterwards. You may leave the incision open to air or re-bandage it, whichever is more comfortable.

  • Keep your hand elevated above your heart at all times for the first 3-4 days after surgery. This will decrease swelling and minimize pain. Slings are OK, but they usually do not elevate the hand higher than your heart.

  • Keep the splint clean and dry at all times. Showering is OK as long as the splint is protected by a plastic bag or similar device.

When to Call


  • If you have severe or increased pain not relieved by medication.

  • If you have loss of feeling or motion.

  • If your fingers turn white or blue, or feel cool to the touch.

  • If you have increased redness along the incision.

  • If you have an oral temperature over 101  degrees.

  • If you have any yellowish or greenish drainage from the incisions or notice a foul odor.

  • If you have bleeding from the incisions that is difficult to control with moderate pressure.

Suture Removal

Sutures are usually removed from the hand 2 – 3 weeks following surgery. This will be done when you see your surgeon, or may be done by the hand therapist.

Hand Therapy

Hand therapy is the single most important component of your recovery and rehabilitation. Therapy may include hand exercises, heat and massage therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, traction, splints and special wrappings to control swelling. The Hand Rehabilitation Center office will contact you to schedule your first post-operative visit, at which point the incision will be checked and a different splint may be made. The success of your rehabilitation depends mostly on you and your ability to follow the instructions and exercises provided by your therapist. The Hand Rehabilitation Center is located at 610 Frederick Street in Santa Cruz, the phone number is (831) 457-7130.


Do not resume or begin smoking (or using other nicotine products) after surgery. This can reduce the oxygen in your blood and greatly impact your ability to heal. While it is advised for your overall health that you quit smoking entirely, it is imperative that you do not smoke whatsoever until your incisions have fully healed.